Barack Obama’s supporters across the world are rejoicing in his re-election to the White House, and a small tribe in a remote Indian village believes they have more reasons to celebrate.
The Siddhi tribe, who are the descendents of the East Africans and were brought by the Arab and Portuguese traders to India as slaves and servants, believe that they and Obama share the same gene pool.
The 30,000- strong Siddi tribe living mostly in the west coastal states of India is planning to celebrate Obama’s victory. The tribe in Karnataka state is planning to organize a gala fest to mark the occasion of Obama’s second term.
“There will be sports, music, dancing, food and cultural activities,” said Siddi leader Diyog Bastiyon, according to a DNA report.
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The Siddi’s in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka celebrated Obama’s victory in 2008 elections too. They then wanted to celebrate his victory in their own style and planned to send a cask of honey, traditionally collected from the forests near their villages, to Obama.
“We had even handcrafted a cask out of rose wood, but the official procedures were too complicated for us to follow-up. We finally decided to hold sports meet to rejoice in the election of Barack Obama,” said Bastiyon.
The Siddis are considered an Afro–Indian tribe and are believed to be brought to India from the East African villages of Abyssinia -- modern day Eritrea -- to work as laborers or servants in the 13th and 19th centuries.
"They're the lost tribes of Africa," said sociologist Ashish Nandi to the AFP.
"There was a flourishing slave market between the 10th and 16th centuries in Gujarat, a springboard of intercontinental migration in those days," the AFP quoted anthropologist D.K. Bhattacharya as saying.
A majority of the Siddis follow the Islam as their religion as they are brought by the Arabs while a small population among them, who were brought to India by the Portuguese, follows Christianity.
Although the Siddis have blended with Indians in their food habits and dressing styles, they still maintain their distinctive African looks and traditions. The tribe don’t encourage inter marriages with other tribes or other Indians and this has helped them to retain their African appearance.
Most of the Siddis live in remote villages and hilly terrains and remain impoverished and illiterate.